STUDY GUIDE FOR THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE BY HELEN BENEDICT

How a person of mixed race or nationality can forge an identity in America, which is so racially divided in so many ways.

Whether taking the law into your own hands to save someone is ever justified.

Teenage parenthood and its challenges.

Questions for readers:

1) The book’s title comes from the quote, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” This was written by Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Holocaust who won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1986. What do you think Wiesel meant by these words?

2) Why do you think Madge is so inspired by that quote? What does it mean to her?

3) Madge says in the book that she has to be black because, in America, nobody will let you be half and half. What did she mean, and do you agree with her?

4) How do you think Madge would be a different person if she had been raised in a racially and culturally diverse place like New York City?

5) Do you think Madge’s family really understands what it’s like for her to live in where she does?

6) Were you surprised by the sort of racism Madge endures in her town?

7) How do you think Madge changes and grows throughout the course of the novel?

8) When Madge rescues Timmy, she believes at first that she is doing the right thing. But she has broken the law. Do you think she should have taken him home with her or not?

9) Do you think the choice made at the end of the book is better for Madge or better for Timmy, or both?

10) Do you think Madge and Krishna will stay in touch in the future?

11) Where do you see Madge five years after the book ends?